At the end of the day the first thing I do before I shower is take all my gear off the bike. That makes it easier for me to access all my stuff and in a weird way I feel like the bike needs the rest too. After relaxing and and getting a good shower I jump on the bike and check out places where I can eat and maybe look for a WallyWorld close by. Riding with all the gear off the bike is a totally whole new experience now compared to when I used to ride it. It seems like it just flies through the air now with little effort. Controlling it is a cinch! It feels like it’s become a part of me like never before. It feels very light and very responsive.
I had my second rear flat tire today while riding across a 7-11 parking lot. Not just a flat but a blowout. This time it wasn’t a puncture but rather a hole at the base of the valve stem. This worries me because I couldn’t find any sharp burrs or edges on the rim. I’ve had this situation in the past and I remedied the problem by putting an extra layer of rubber from the blown out tube in between the new tube and the rim. I now have one spare tube left. Looks like I’ll be looking for WallyWorld again tonight or first thing tomorrow.
I had to ride through some more smoke from a wildfire somewhere south of Punta Gorda. There were several fire trucks staged at spot where the smoke was originating from. As I traveled south more trucks headed north to the scene for about 20 minutes of my ride.
Next was the most dangerous part of my whole trip so far. I took the wrong bridge from North Ft. Myers into Ft. Myers. There is a raised narrow walkway across the Caloosahatchee bridge. There is only enough room for my bike and not enough room to ride it. That put me on the highway with about a foot and a half of path to the white line. I entertained the thought of getting some video or a few pictures but it was way too risky doing what I was already doing . I had to reach up to grab both hands on the grips and lean in toward the bike. If I tripped or stumbled anywhere along the bridge I would have met a very angry kitten in heaven. It seemed to take hours to get across. I thought if nothing else I would get hit by a side view mirror on a truck.
Traffic was whipping by me at 50-60 MPH. The trucks create a vacuum that tends to pull you out. As I got higher on the bridge the wind gusts got harder. When I did get to the top there were two big sign poles. The base of the poles left about only 4 inches for the wheels of my bike to go around them. To do that I would have to cross the “out-of-bounds” line and go into the traffic lane so I could tilt my bike outward to make the saddlebags clear the poles. This meant only one thing. Wait for a long enough break in traffic to make the move. So I did. I waited and waited and waited. I finally saw my break coming but it would have to be quick and perfect. Like landing the space shuttle, I’ll only get one chance here.
I kept my eye on the last car in line and the first car from the second group. I quickly calculated how much time I would have and reviewed in my head what I was going to do. I thought about where I had to put my hands on the bike so the front wheel didn’t bump the pole base. My left hand went on the handle bars. I grabbed the back of the seat with the right hand where I would feel all of the weight when I tilted it toward me. Two seconds to go. I straightened up and got into position.
Whoosh! The last car! I held on tight with both hands and took two steps out onto the roadway and leaned the bike toward me. I now had to push back because of the weight. I looked at nothing but the front wheel and rolled it forward in a smooth motion. If the saddlebags scraped the pole I would have to lift the front wheel and swing it out over the edge to make the back wheel come closer to the edge to get the bags clear of the base. If it slipped off the edge there would be nothing I could do with the time I had left.
The saddlebags were even with the base when I could hear the second pack of cars coming. I couldn’t step back in until I was totally clear of the poles and could tilt the bike back again. I used every second to make sure my moves were precise and smooth. Clear! I tilted the bike forward toward the railing and stepped back into the painted line and hugged the bike. Whoosh! Whoosh!
I got to the bottom of the bridge and laid the bike down on the grassy knoll and grabbed my water bottle from the holder and drank the whole thing and thought about how stupid it was to attempt what I just did. Stupid? Yes. Dangerous? Yes. Exciting? Very.
When I rode into Ft. Myers I was awed by it’s beauty and quaint atmosphere. Gorgeous trees and shrubs and plants. Colorful houses with tall palm trees lining the streets. Estates like I’ve only seen in movies. I took some time and just rode quietly along taking it all in. Again, the scents in the air were fragrant with life and the sun seemed to be something totally different from a few hours ago.
I woke up at 6 AM this morning and wore my hiker shorts as promised. I coated my extremely white legs with sunblock and then did my laundry. I asked the front desk clerk if my socks made my legs look too white. She looked and smiled and said no.
Today’s mileage: 37
I’ve got about 40 miles to go then I can rest for a couple of days. I have a lot of work to do before I set out again.